When our lives are swamped with busy schedules, time with family and friends, and little time for ourselves, it feels like there is no time in our day to dedicate toward intentional inner mindfulness and serenity. I recently started reading the book Peace Is Every Step by the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. What I love about Thich Nhat Hanh, is his ability to simplify and apply techniques used in his Buddhist training for our everyday lives. This is a follow-up blog post from “How To Forget The Past And Find Peace In The Present” in my Mindfulness Series from Peace Is Every Step.
Bells of Mindfulness
This week, I wanted to backtrack a bit to the “bells of mindfulness” that I touched upon on my previous post: How To Forget The Past And Find Peace In The Present. It really resonated with me (pun intended!) and made me reflect on my inner senses that I tend to take for granted.
In his tradition, Thich Nhat Hanh describes the temple bells in Vietnam as a way “to remind us to come back to the present.” He says,
When we hear the bell, we can pause and enjoy our breathing and get in touch with the wonders of life that are around us- the flowers, the children, the beautiful sounds.”
For me, I am usually distracted during my work day. Thankfully, I am occasionally jostled by an acoustic Bell of Mindfulness: the sound of a lullaby being played by the overhead hospital speakers. The lullaby represents the birth of a new baby. Two lullabies = twins!
Each time I hear the lullaby, my body warms with light. I am reminded that a precious new life is entering the world and I pause to cherish the moment. I imagine how happy the parents and family/ friends must feel with the birth of a new baby, and I appreciate the gift of life and the happiness and joy that new babies bring into the world.
The lullaby sound at work is a perfect example of being given a few seconds to simply pause and reflect on the Present moment.
[While breathing in and out]:
“I am present. I am at peace.”
I currently live in Fargo, ND and am living through the coldest winter I’ve ever experienced in my life. Most mornings are anywhere between 3 to -20°F. My car is usually cold, and I constantly battle between keeping the windows defrosted and keeping my shivering body warm during my commutes to and from work. While distracted by the physical reminder of the bitter winter, I occasionally am blessed with the sight of a Sun Dog on my commutes.
A Sun Dog is a halo of light, caused by sunlight reflecting off ice crystals in the atmosphere. It is a breathtaking phenomenon that reminds me of the beauty of Nature. Sun Dogs have become great visual Bells of Mindfulness for me since they occur so unexpectedly. The warmth from the sun on my cold body inside my frosted car reminds me to physically relax and enjoy the rays of sunshine that settle over my skin. I love being given this moment to cherish the sight and warmth of such Natural beauty.
The “bells of mindfulness” can be in each of our senses; especially our sense of taste.
When it comes to eating, the majority of how I choose to eat is guided by Whole30 / Paleo principles. This way of life makes me feel the most energized and healthy. One of my favorite snacks to munch on while driving home from work, is a small serving of plain organic almonds: No salt, no roasting, no sugar glazed coating…just simply, plain almonds.
The other day, while I was eating these almonds, I turned off the radio and ate without distraction. I choose one almond at a time and patiently chewed it down to powder and pulp. I allowed the grainy texture to stick to my tongue. I savored the oil and the rich quality of each almond as it slowly disintegrated in my mouth.
In that moment, eating these almonds one at a time, my sense of taste became intensified. It was the perfect Bell of Mindfulness that reconnected my mind with my body. I felt nourished by the simple, nutrient rich snack. I visualized it providing health and healing to my body. As I took my time chewing and swallowing, I simply felt happy and appreciative of my overall health.
I encourage you this week to be receptive to the little things built in to our busy lives that we tend to mindlessly brush over. Whether it’s a quick pause to cherish the melody of a song on the radio, the glimpse of Nature around us, or the savory taste of a simple snack we’re enjoying, take your time to:
Appreciate your body’s innate senses.
Cherish your health, and allow yourself to be at peace.